Tagged "health"


It’s Wedding Season: Here’s How to Stay Healthy

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Can you hear church bells ringing? Indeed, we’ve officially entered “wedding season,” the four or five month span where many of us are flitting from place to place to witness ones and friends exchange their vows. And while weddings can be amazingly fun, they also aren’t always the healthiest events on earth; open bars, limitless cocktail weenies and energy-draining travel can leave even the healthiest of us feeling worse for the wear. As such, we decided to compile some easy-to-implement wellness techniques for wedding season. Here they are.

 

Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

Let’s start at the beginning: Deciding whether or not to attend a wedding in the first place. Having attended countless weddings (including my own), I can tell you that you don’t need to RSVP “yes” to every single invitation. Instead, be realistic about your schedule, your finances and your connection with the couple before committing to what will be a busy, sometimes expensive weekend. Does the prospect of traveling to Kentucky for 24 hours to catch your ex-coworker’s wedding feel totally overwhelming? Are you invited to a destination wedding that would cost as much as a weeklong vacation with your family? Be honest with yourself and answer these hard questions: Do you really need to go? And does it make sense to go? If the honest answers are “no,” feel free to politely decline and send along a nice gift and gracious note. Trust me, the couple will understand. (And if they don't, you probably should go!) 

 

Plan ahead of time!

If you do decide to attend a wedding, don’t put yourself in the stressful situation of figuring out key details – transportation, accommodations, wardrobe, gift – a week ahead of time. Rather, take the time, ahead of time, to plot out how your weekend will look. Book your flight and accommodations well in advance to avoid price hikes or sold-out wedding blocks, and decide on your outfit and make any relevant appointments (hello, manicure!) with plenty of time to spare. After all, this weekend is supposed to be about celebrating... not about stressing out about the fact that you have to cough up $700 for your flight to Dallas.

 

Eat something before the ceremony and reception. 

Ever enter a wedding reception starving? That first drink hits you like a freight train and, more likely than not, you end up scarfing down five sliders in ten minutes. (Maybe that’s just me?) Regardless, it’s a very, very bad idea to head to a wedding hungry, because you’ll be drinking on an empty tummy and you’ll be tempted to consume a lot more (usually unhealthy) appetizers than you normally would. Eat a filling, protein-filled snack before you head out, such as a quarter of an avocado with a hard-boiled egg or bring along a bag of nuts or a low-sugar protein bar to discreetly nosh on before the ceremony to avoid wedding hanger. 

 

Watch the booze.

Ah, this is a universal recommendation, isn’t it? But seriously, weddings are often sloshed-up affairs where one glass of wine can easily spiral into ...many over the course of a five-hour night. As such, enter the event with a clear game plan to avoid that dreaded next-day hangover. Select a clear, low-glycemic spirit like tequila and pair it with a zero calorie, hydrating mixer like club soda. Sip on it slowly and be sure to pair every drink consumed with a full 8-ounce glass of water. Another great tip? Start your night with a club soda -- you'll "fill yourself up" a bit, plus avoid the aforementioned drinking on an empty stomach scenario. 

 

Dance!

Instead of making like a barfly or trolling the dessert table, get on your feet and hit the dance floor once the band or DJ starts playing. Not only is it just plain fun (I mean, who doesn't want to do the limbo with a 85-year-old grandma?), it’s a great way to get in a bit of exercise, socialize with friends and avoid eating overdoing it with the sweets and drinks. Moreover, it’s always nice to shake off that filet mignon dinner. See you on the dance floor?! 

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Cleansing: Myths and Facts

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

“I’m going on a cleanse.”

For many of us, hearing that statement produces waves of confusion, fear, skepticism and maybe even a bit of envy. After all, cleansing seems like an intimidating proposition: An endeavor that is taxing to undertake, but could ultimately be redeeming. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding about what a cleanse really means can inhibit many of us to embark on one; alternatively, it can inspire cleansing for all the wrong reasons. Ahead, we’re separating fact from fiction, offering up the “truth” about what really happens when you embark on a responsible cleanse, the BHH way.

 

Myth: Cleansing is as form of extreme dieting.

If you’re bracing yourself for drinking nothing but juice while on a cleanse, then maybe think again. While there are certainly “cleanses” out there that entail such extreme measures, we view cleansing in a quite a different way. The purpose of a BHH-approved cleanse is to energize and recharge the body with nutritious, whole foods that are free from inflammatory ingredients. This means lots of vegetables, some fruits, healthy fats, some lean protein and absolutely no refined carbohydrates, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Consider it a welcome reset for your body, which entails eating – and eating well. (More on what that means below.)

 

Myth: Cleansing is all about weight loss.

While some people will absolutely lose weight on the version of a cleanse we just outlined, it all depends on what your eating habits were like prior to cleansing. That’s to say, if you ate fairly clean and lean ahead of cleansing, your weight loss may be modest at best. Alternatively, if you were chowing on fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should really see the pounds come off. 

With that said, the purpose of a BHH-approved cleanse isn’t simply about dropping weight – it’s about enhanced mental clarity, increased energy, getting better sleep, experiencing a more balanced mood and enjoying greater consciousness around the foods you consume and the way that they affect your body. In short, you should be seeing holistic improvements across the board when you’re on a great cleanse – and one of them may indeed be a smaller waistline.

 

Fact: Cleansing isn’t about deprivation, but it is about elimination.

In a BHH-approved cleanse, you shouldn't feel super hungry. This is because you’re keeping your blood sugar stable and feeding your body regularly with satisfying, filling foods: You will not be starving yourself in the hopes of a quick weight-loss fix. Nevertheless, we’ll shoot straight with you – you are going to be eliminating some foods and substances that you may really, really miss: That slice of pizza, your nightly glass of wine, your go-to midday brownie and  oh yes  your morning coffee. This will be hard at first, but eventually you’ll get used to life without them – and, frankly, you may feel so good by the end that you won’t even feel deprived.

 

Myth: Going on a cleanse is expensive.

Yes, there are certainly cleanse programs that require you to plunk down hundreds of dollars per week to eat clean and stay lean. But a manageable, sustainable cleanse is really just about adjusting your everyday shopping habits and being smart about your purchases. In fact, since you’re going to be eliminating items that are likely mainstays of your daily spending – coffee, gluten, alcohol – you may even find that you’ll save money. So don’t get it twisted – shopping for a cleanse is just like regular old grocery shopping – and if you need help, do check out this post about purchasing healthy foods on a budget. 

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What’s the Deal with Alcohol?

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

When it comes to our health, where do we stand on alcohol, really? The broad consensus is that, generally speaking, cutting back on (or altogether cutting out) alcohol can have positive impacts for our health. After all, excessive alcohol consumption can do everything from shrink our brain tissue to enhance the risk of cardiovascular disease to increase our propensity to develop cancers of the liver, colon, breast, esophagus, and mouth. Phew. That’s enough to scare even the most fervent partier away from the bar for at least one night.

But then there are studies like this one that point to red wine’s antioxidant effects, which include helping our body increase levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. In fact, research has shown that moderate red wine consumption – a glass of wine per night for women, up to two for men – can also help lower our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And health benefits aside, let’s not forget that for some of us, a casual glass of wine at dinner, a cold beer on the beach, or a fun cocktail out with friends is a source of pleasure. Must we sacrifice that in order to preserve our brain tissue?

The simple answer is no. But the more complex is answer is… it’s complicated.

 

“JUST ONE” CAN BE HARD

Since alcohol is an addictive substance, it can be hard to display restraint when consuming it: Even the most prudent of us will admit to letting one glass of wine slide to three on occasion. At that point, unfortunately, most of its beneficial effects are lost. Add in the fact that some of us our genetically predisposed to have issues practicing restraint (alcoholism is a disease). This creates a situation wherein alcohol simply isn't a healthy choice for everyone. 

 

ALCOHOL IS PERSONAL

Along those lines, alcohol is a depressant – at least, when you over-consume. That’s to say, many people enjoy alcohol for its stimulating effects: It makes them laugh harder, dance more easily, and generally feel “loosened up.” But when that casual drink turns to shots at the bar, alcohol’s depressant effects take hold – which can be seriously destructive if you are already depressed or suffering emotionally. This is why it’s incredibly important to be mindful of your mental and emotional health when consuming booze.

 

NOT ALL ALCOHOLS ARE EQUAL

Moreover, the type of alcohol you are drinking is important. Even though you may love your mojito, it is loaded with sugar and empty calories that immediately get stored as fat. This is why it’s important to choose wisely: We recommend sticking with heart-healthy red wine or high-quality tequila paired with seltzer and a wedge of citrus. Take your time to really enjoy these drinks, ideally sipping on them with food. And, yes, of course you can have your mojito once in a while! 

 

IT’S ABOUT INTENT

Alcohol isn’t the devil. But it should be consumed in moderation and, in our opinion, in settings that bring you joy. I grew up in a very healthy, active family and my parents drank a glass of red wine every night at dinner – mostly because my dad is a bit of an oenophile and it really enhanced the food. It’s a ritual that I think is healthy, enriching, and has been practiced in societies like France and Italy for years. But if you are drinking simply to get drunk, you are drinking for the wrong reasons – period. So, always ask yourself: Why am I drinking? The answer may be sobering.

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Spring Cleanse Series: Your Diet

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Spring cleaning: Whether it's emptying out our sweater-filled closets, engaging in some serious Swiffer-ing (yes, that's a verb), or embarking on a new clean-eating plan, we all attempt to do it in some capacity. But, let's face it, the motivation to full-on cleanse doesn't necessarily come naturally. That's why we're sharing our tips to how clean up all areas of your life in our new, ongoing Spring Cleanse Series. First up? Your diet!

(PS: Watch the space for a revamped BusyHappyHealthy cleanse comin' atcha soon...) 

SPRING CLEANSE: YOUR DIET

Spent the winter hunkered in, fortified by cheese and wine? It's time to back away from the brie and Bordeaux and use the new season as an opportunity to shift habits.

Below is a plan of attack, which focuses consuming quality, whole foods, eliminating toxins and addictive substances, and staying super hydrated. While doing all of these things at once might seem overwhelming, they really are best instituted in tandem. With that noted, any progress is great progress, so feel free to slowly integrate each change until you're in full Spring Cleanse mode. Godspeed. 

DRINK MORE WATER

Begin by upping your daily water intake, which is a supremely easy -- and effective -- way to stay healthy and detox. We recommend you drink about half of your weight in ounces daily; increase that amount if you happen to be very active. If you're feeling bored with plain old H20, add a bit of alkalizing fresh lemon juice to your water.

DITCH REFINED CARBS

Refined carbs -- you know, the fun stuff like cookies, white bread and rice -- are certified diet killers. They'll spike your blood sugar, throw your hormones out of whack, and keep you from functioning like a lean and mean fighting machine. But this doesn't mean you need to go entirely carb-free. Opt for quality, complex carbohydrates that won't send your blood sugar skyrocketing. Think: Ancient grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, or gluten-free rolled oats.

WEAN YOURSELF OFF OF PACKAGED FOODS

Your beloved "healthy" granola bar might seem like a cleanse-friendly selection, but it is likely filled with processed ingredients and loaded with sugar. This isn't to say that there aren't great bars (or packaged foods) out there, it's just to underscore that many of them aren't so great. Use this cleanse to eliminate them entirely; if that's too difficult, allow yourself 1-2 packaged items per week. 

EAT 50% PLANT-BASED AT EVERY MEAL

Eating a diet heavy in plants -- from leafy greens to colorful veggies -- is a cornerstone of a clean, healthy eating plan. Doing so ensures you're getting all of the essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals you need, helps keeps calories in check and maintains a healthy blood sugar level. 

CHOW ON LEAN MEATS + HEALTHY FATS

Yes, we want you to eat plenty of plants while cleansing. But that doesn't mean that meat needs to be the enemy. In fact, lean and organic meats are wonderful natural sources of protein (which keeps you fuller longer), along with other vitamins and nutrients. Along those lines, healthy fat is awesome, too. Eat regular servings during your cleanse to further nourish your body and keep you satiated. Need a benchmark serving size? Go for one-fourth of an avocado or a tablespoon of olive oil per meal. 

NO SUGAR OR LOW SUGAR, PLEASE 

New research continues to show that refined sugar is basically like poison to our bodies.  Okay, that might sound sort of extreme, but here's the deal: Eating too much sugar causes a cluster of symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome. These include weight gain, abdominal obesity, increased blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure. This is why it's more important than ever that we regulate our sugar intake, particularly refined sugar -- you know, the kind that goes straight into your bloodstream. If you are using sugar while cleansing, use only natural sweeteners like agave, honey, and dates... and use sparingly. 

ELIMINATE COFFEE AND ALCOHOL

We saved the worst news for last. Sorry. While we won't entirely demonize coffee and alcohol, they are highly addictive substances and can contribute to a slew of health problems -- from adrenal fatigue to weight gain. If if you really want to Spring Cleanse, these two have got to go in order to have our body function optimally and for you to see the cleanse magic actually happen. Cheers! 

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The Coolest Face Oils You've Never Heard Of

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Disclaimer: This post will not include any mention of coconut oil. Relieved? We get it – as much as we love coconut oil, it's gotten a lot of play lately. That’s why we decided to share some of our favorite, under-the-radar, 100% natural face oils.

Why face oils? Once the enemy of skincare ingredients (hello, "oil-free"), oil is now experiencing a much-deserved redemption. This is because organic, natural oils are some of the most nutrient dense and antioxidant-rich elements on earth. They're also loaded in good fats and vitamins, both things which your skin absolutely loves -- and needs -- to function optimally. 

But enough from us -- let's dive into the rundown! 

Broccoli Seed Oil 

  • What it is: It is what it sounds like: Oil derived from broccoli! More specifically, broccoli seed oil is extracted from the tiny seeds of broccoli sprouts. (Crazy, right?)
  • Why you should care: The health benefits of broccoli have long been heralded, but it's only recently that the oil derived from this go-to veggie has gained attention. It's been touted as the next big anti-aging oil, thanks to its super potent antioxidant activity. It's also filled with Vitamin A, aka natural retinol, which is lauded for its anti-aging properties. Furthermore, it's filled with essential fatty acids, which can act as potent moisturizing agents when applied topically. Lastly, it closely mimics chemical silicone such as dimethicone, making it a healthy and all-natural alternative.
  • Where to find it: Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum

Rosehip Seed Oil

  • What it is: Rosehip seed oil is an oil harvested from the seeds that grow on rose bushes, specifically the Rosa moschata variety. Fancy, huh? 
  • Why you should care: Light, delicate, and fast-absorbing, rosehip seed oil is kind of like the discreet, grand dame of face oils. When extracted using a cold-press process (which, incidentally, is something you should always look for when buying oils for both skincare and food), it contains crazy-high levels of antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It’s particularly high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C; the former contains super small molecules that are able to deeply penetrate and heal the skin. FYI, because it’s so fragile, you’ll need to take care to store this oil in a cool, dark place.
  • Where to find it: Mountain Rose Herbs Rosehip Seed Oil 

Sea Buckthorn Oil

  • What it is: An oil extracted from the seeds and berries of the sea buckthorn plant, which is a hearty, mountain-indigenous shrub. (Yep, it’s not from the ocean!)
  • Why you should care: This seriously potent oil has long been used in folk cultures to treat infections, heal wounds, and even help with digestion. It’s loaded in beta carotene, omega-3s, the rare omega-7, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, all of which assist in doing things like fighting free radicals, accelerating collagen production, and protecting the skin. It’s so potent that using it neat can be a lot for your skin, which is why we recommend using it in a blended formula.
  • Where to find it: Grown Alchemist Antioxidant Facial Oil

Evening Primrose Oil

  • What it is: An oil derived from the seeds of the primrose flower, a wildflower native to eastern and central North America.
  • Why you should care: Evening primrose oil is another lighter, easily absorbed oil that is loaded in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It's also a purported hormone balancer and a fantastic anti-inflammatory agent, which makes it the perfect oil for addressing skin flare-ups around that time of the month. Like rosehip seed oil, this is very fragile oil and is best kept refrigerated. 
  • Where to find it: Mountain Rose Herbs Evening Primrose Oil
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